Relative success

At Hammond High, 2 grapplers progressing as their brothers observe


December 20, 2006|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,sun reporter

Dylan Gillett's first high school match wasn't supposed to be like this.

As the younger brother of Devon, a returning state champion on a defending dual meet state championship team, the Hammond freshman already was saddled with high expectations.

Now, the first match of the 103-pounder's high school career would decide the outcome of the Bears' contest this month with county rival Oakland Mills. It was a nearly identical situation to the last time Dylan had watched Hammond wrestle in February.

"I was there last year, and I saw when Josh [Halper] wrestled in my weight class and he had to do the same thing I was trying to do for Hammond to win states," said Dylan Gillett, referring to the 112-pound sophomore.

Halper, like his training partner Dylan, also has an older brother on the team - Zach Halper is a 135-pound senior.

In the case of both sets of siblings, the older brothers have done their best to take some of the pressure off their younger brothers.

"I was crying a little bit before the match [against Oakland Mills], and Devon tried to talk to me two or three times. He told me, `No one on the team is going to hate you if you lose,' and `I love you, and I'll always love you,' " Dylan Gillett said. "But that didn't change the fact that the match still was coming down to me, and the fact that I was just scared. I did not enjoy being in that situation."

Dylan went on to score a 52-second pin that gave the Bears a 39-32 win.

Josh Halper recalled being in that situation last Valentine's Day before a screaming crowd of about 1,000 at Hammond in the Class 2A-1A dual meet state championship match against Hereford.

With Hammond trailing by a point and the crowd chanting Halper's name, only his 103-pound bout stood between defeat and a victory that would allow the Bears to clinch their second straight state duals title and a record fourth overall.

Halper pinned his man in 3 minutes, 28 seconds, securing a 35-30 win and igniting a raucous celebration.

Before the bout, Halper's brother, Zach, had put things in perspective.

"My brother, Zach, told me, `It's not your fault if we lose, because there are other, more experienced guys who didn't get it done tonight,' " Josh Halper recalled. "That gave me the confidence to go out and get the pin and to get the win for our team.

"Against Oakland Mills, I think I was just trying to tell Dylan the same thing."

Dylan Gillett said the words of his brother and Halper, his practice partner, "took the pressure off of me, so I just went out and went at it as hard as I could."

"It was tough watching him in that situation, but it was just as rewarding to watch him pull through," said Devon Gillett, a defending county, regional and state champion who competes at 119 pounds. "It's a little different than last year, when I pretty much had to only focus on myself.

"Now being a team captain, during practice, when I'm pushing hard, I find myself looking around to find Dylan, making sure that he's doing OK. I want him to excel. ... I'm always on him, like, `You've got to go harder in practice,' or `that move stinks,' " Devon Gillett said. "Of course, when I do things like that, he sometimes gets mad."

Complicating matters, said Dylan Gillett, is that he is cutting weight.

"Practices are hard. You can't eat a lot," he said. "It's nice to hear from teachers and friends that you're doing good because you're on the wrestling team, but when you're always tired and hungry, sometimes, you get angry."

For advice on how to go about being sibling wrestlers, the Gilletts need only look as far as the Halpers, who share not only similar tastes in music - each has played the violin since third grade - but also demeanor and wrestling styles.

"There are definitely more pressures added on for the both of you. Expectations for your younger brother to be better, and the fact that it makes you want to work harder with your brother on the team," said Zach Halper, a defending county champion who placed sixth at last year's 2A-1A state tournament.

"When your little brother's on the team, you want to watch out for him."

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